Chief Copy Editor
The nominees for the 2022 Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday, Feb. 8, which means it’s officially awards season in Hollywood. Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” racked up the most nominations this year with twelve, followed by “Dune” with 10 and both “Belfast” and “West Side Story” with seven. Surprisingly, 10 films were nominated for Best Picture, something that hasn’t happened since 2010, including “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.” Personally, I would’ve loved to see “tick, tick…BOOM!” or “The Tragedy of Macbeth” make the cut, but overall, I’d say it’s a solid lineup.
Easily the biggest surprise of the announcements was the recognition of Ruysuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car,” a Japanese film about grief explored through a theater director and his unraveling realizations about his relationship with his late wife. It picked up four nominations: Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and International Feature Film, becoming one of the few films not in English to be considered for Best Picture. Guillermo del Toro’s noir remake “Nightmare Alley” also managed to sneak in with four nominations. After a more-than-lackluster box office performance that seemed to have gone under the radar, this unique film managed to surprise everyone.
The most shocking snub this year was “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve’s exclusion from the Best Director category, a spot that many considered to be a lock. It doesn’t make sense that a film with ten nominations for Best Picture, Production Design, Editing, Visual Effects, etc. didn’t get one more for the guy who coordinated all of it. Other snubs that I would have liked to have been recognized are the cinematography in “The Green Knight,” Jodie Comer in “The Last Duel,” Rachel Zegler in “West Side Story” and the production design and score in “The French Dispatch” (and, for fun, Andrew Garfield [potential spoilers] for his performance in every interview he’s done in the past six months denying rumors that he would appear in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”).
As far as my predictions in the major categories go, there are a lot that are as close to certain as you can get, starting with “The Power of the Dog.” This has been the clear frontrunner for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay for a few months now, and it would honestly be a deserving winner in each category. Best Actor is a lot harder to predict as it seems to be a close race between Benedict Cumberbatch, Will Smith and Andrew Garfield. I’d love to see Garfield win, but it would be nice to watch Will Smith get his first Oscar in his already-legendary career. Kristen Stewart should win for her performance in “Spencer,” but knowing the Academy, they’ll probably be boring and give it to Nicole Kidman for “Being the Ricardos.” First-time nominees Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”) and Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) are, deservedly, the frontrunners in the Supporting Actor/Actress categories. And finally, Best Original Screenplay looks like a close race between frequent nominees, but not yet winners, Paul Thomas Anderson and Kenneth Branagh for “Licorice Pizza” and “Belfast,” respectively. I wasn’t a massive fan of either of these films, but if I had to pick, I’d probably choose “Belfast,” although I could see it going either way.
While the nominations are never going to please everyone, the Academy is finally showing steps in diversifying its voters and nominees while also starting to give proper recognition to non-English language films. In the end, do awards mean anything? Not really. But it’s always nice to see deserving people get recognized for their work, regardless of where that work comes from or its box office returns.
This year’s Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 27 and will be hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes.